“We are not drifting, not with one of us still left holding the line. And the wind that has moved you to set your sails lifting, blows cold on the one who got cut loose behind.” (Ralph McTell)
The song above is about a love affair ending, but it’s been going round my head all week. Without any warning, the second of my two children announced he was moving out and moving away. It hit me like a punch. I wasn’t prepared. The elder had quietly left a few weeks earlier but not far away and, while one was still there, it felt like they both were.
If I thought about it logically, they were barely ever there. The lives of middle-aged schoolteachers and two young men rarely move in the same timeframe. But other things were there – an overflowing washing basket, the smell of surreptitious fags, bacon fat. And that will go. My house is going to be clean and tidy and quiet. And I can’t bear it.
Nothing can prepare you for the birth of your children and, just as they have no idea of the disruption they bring when they arrive, equally, they have no idea of the pain they cause when they leave. Just as well. It wouldn’t do to worry them, or worse, make them feel obliged to stay. We’ve all met the lonely older people who stayed at home with their parents and have no life after the parent dies. I don’t want that for my kids but I’m not ready to part with them either.
So, I’m randomly crying: the Winnie-the-Pooh sign saying, “X’s Room” was enough to set me off today, the day before it was a favourite mug.
I find it hard to believe their childhood’s over. And harder still to accept that my role is on the sidelines of their lives now. I’ll get used to it…all parents must – but I’m not going to pretend I like it.